A New Season

maple leafAutumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower. ~Camus


Somehow, summer slipped by without me and now that I’ve returned to the garden, I find myself in a new season, deep in autumn’s glory. The oak and maple leaves are at their height of color, still clinging to their branches and rustling in the wind that brought November with it this morning. What a rich season filled with a touch of nostalgia for the flower-filled summer that was and a touch of sadness for the stark and cold winter to come.

I missed my garden this summer. Most of my attention was on a major renovation in the kitchen, followed by a nasty flood in the basement brought on by a series of torrential rains. Instead of a quiet summer tending the garden, I lived in a noisy dusty house answering dozens of questions a day from hard-working men who were there to make it beautiful and functional again. We are still putting the last few displaced items away but how wonderful it feels to return to the rake and the clippers and reclaim the last lovely days of the garden season.

In spite of months of construction chaos in the house, I stole a moment here and there to enjoy the garden and those memories inspire me as I weed and prune and prepare the garden for its long winter’s nap. The owls have been hooting in the early morning hours and the bluejays leave me a feather now and then as if to remind me that life goes on in all seasons.

My talented husband Bill Purse has graciously allowed me to include a track from his upcoming album Tribute, a piece called “New Seasons” that was composed by our friend Colter Harper (The CD will be released in December). Enjoy listening while you browse the garden photos that range from July to October! (All photos ©2015 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved).

The Wood Thrush Sings

“This is the only bird whose note affects me like music. It lifts and exhilarates me. It is inspiring. It changes all hours to an eternal morning.” ~Henry David Thoreau

This year, a wood thrush has come to live in our woods. I knew its song immediately, the distinctive two part harmony it sings through its Y-shaped syrinx (voice box). It is an elusive woodland bird that is related to the robin (and sometimes called a wood robin), but seldom seen – I have yet to spot him. His song goes on each day from pre-dawn to early evening and accompanies my every move in the garden, a lovely soundtrack to my days. Here is a clip of his song that I captured a few mornings ago. 

Mulberry tree

Mulberry tree

June is the month of roses and clematis, bringing a new set of colors to the garden. The mulberry tree that hangs over the garden fence is overflowing with berries, a feast attracting the birds and littering the gravel paths. A giant kousa dogwood at the driveway entrance has been spectacular, a long column of white blossoms that is only now beginning to fade to green. Once again our temperatures vary drastically from cool to hot and back again, punctuated by wild thunderstorms, unusual weather for June.  But the garden is lush and full from the heat and rain; here are a few images of June’s bloom. Click on any photo to start the slide viewer – enjoy!  (All photos ©2015 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved)

It is the perfection of music when heard in its place and season… the note of the wood-robin is the spontaneous voice of Nature, devoid of artifice, clear as a bell.” ~T. Chalkley Palmer

To learn more about the wood thrush, visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology or Friends of Glen Providence Park.

The Merry Month

The skies were bright,
Our hearts were light
in the merry merry month of May ~Stephen Foster

Circles in MayMay is coming to a close and the garden continues to change before my eyes. The spectacular bloom of spring has softened into lush green growth while clematis, iris, and peonies have taken the place of daffodils and tulips. Soft tones of blue, mauve, and peach dominate the color palette while the scent of honeysuckle and Viburnum fill the air. A few roses are beginning to open as the May bloom season dissolves into early summer.

In the coldframe, hundreds of plants are patiently awaiting their entrance into the earth and I wonder what I was thinking when I started so many flats of annuals deep in the winter. Planting seeds was a sure sign of longing for the promise of spring in a gray cold world, and now that world is merry again with color and scent! (All photos ©2015 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved)

Longing for spring and celebrating its arrival is an old tale. There are many versions of songs that celebrate the joys of May in the northern hemisphere; here are a few to entertain you as you view some scenes of the late May garden.

Stephen Foster’s “The Merry Merry Month of May” sung by Nelson Eddy

Henry Youell’s madrigal “In the Merry Month of May”

William Byrd’s “Sweet and Merry Month of May”

The Simpson’s version of “Merry Month of May”

The Flower Born Today

The flower that you hold in your hands was born today and already it is as old as you are. ~Antonio Porchia

Tulip 'Apricot Beauty'Each day as I walk through my garden, I see the culmination of work that I did last year, or ten years ago. I also see what is to come, tomorrow, next week, next month. Gardeners are time travelers of a sort. This spring, I am reaping the rewards of having the paths redone last summer. To tread on firm gravel instead of sinking up to my ankles in muck as I moved through the garden in April brought to mind the last year’s path project and my hopes for the garden this season. Every tulip and daffodil that bloomed this spring arose from the bending and digging last October when I planted a thousand bulbs – a vision of floral extravaganza played through in my mind as the autumn leaves fell golden to the ground. Now as I trim the fading blooms from each spring flower, I notice the burgeoning growth of  roses and daylilies to come, and anticipate the floral fireworks of June and July in my imagination.

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I stand in a river of time as the garden streams around me, a constant eddy and flow of events in the moment, yet each dependent on the imagination of the past and the hope of the future. This week, unseasonable heat brought the spring bulb season to a sudden close but also brought on the purple lollipops of Allium aflutanense and the brilliantly colored cloaks of Azaleas and Rhododendrons. Nature never stands still and the ever changing garden carries the gardener with it. Here are a few scenes from the passing spring and the approaching summer; click on any photo to enter the slide viewer. Enjoy! (All photos ©2015 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved).

There is no “End” to be written, neither can you, like an architect, engrave in stone the day the garden was finished. A painter can frame his picture, a composer can notate his coda, but a garden is always on the move. ~Mirabel Osler

Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping, into the future. ~Steve Miller (Fly Like An Eagle)

The Lion Roars

March comes in like a lion, and goes out like a lamb. (old proverb)

Zelda sleeps The month of March has carried the winter banner forward – snow, a bit of rain, and more snow. Bitter temperatures come and go – at least the garden is covered by a deep layer of snow, tucked in safely for the season. For most of us in North America, the winter has been long and difficult and I, at least, long for the return of spring.

Whiteout in the woodsThe garden is asleep, as witnessed by Zelda peering out from her wintry cap. (here is Zelda in warmer times) Snow whiteouts have become common, spectacular and ghost-like. The world is gray and white and brown but I am dreaming of color. To satisfy my need for the hues and vibrancy of the garden, I have begun spending the first hour of each day watching YouTube garden videos. They remind me that the garden season is not so far away and I am inspired to plant seeds, propagate plants, and dream of the days to come.

I am looking forward to the “out like a lamb” part of March. Warmer weather is predicted next week, so perhaps spring really is at hand. In the meantime, winter, however unwelcome, is still a beautiful season. (All images ©2015 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved)

The March wind roars like a lion in the sky,
And makes us shiver as he passes by.
When winds are soft, and the days are warm and clear,
Just like a gentle lamb, then spring is here. ~Anonymous